The Corset by Laura Purcell – Review.

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About the Book

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth.

Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

My Review

The Corset is a book that contains everything I love in fiction. Historical crime with a gothic twist. It also is convincing portrayal of how difficult it was for those who lived in poverty and the attitudes towards women at the time.
The two women concerned, Dorothea who is a wealthy and single socialite is fascinated by phrenology. She engages in good deeds at the women’s prison and uses the women there to learn more about it. Ruth is one of the young women who she meets and she is the one who intrigues her the most. Because she has been accused of and admitted to murder. The method that Ruth describes is different to every type of murder and as you read her story more is revealed.
I preferred Ruth’s story by a long way. Her tragic childhood and then her experiences at the hands of her employers were eye-opening. More so, because I felt that this was an accurate account of what it would have been like for many. Some of the things that happened to her I had to research myself. I had heard of them but not by the names they were known in the book.
It took me longer to warm to Dorothea. I did have sympathy but at times I found her selfish and condescending. But with her family background and the way she was controlled by her father it got easier to understand her. At times she seemed cold and a little bitter but then I could see a softer side as well. If she was allowed to do what interested her and be with who she wanted she would probably have been completely different.
At times it was creepy but not as much as I expected. Most of the time I thought Ruth’s ‘talent’ was in her head apart from certain events that did happen. I did guess at some of the eventual outcome but there was one part I didn’t see coming and it was one of the better finales in books I have read this year. That much, I read the last chapter again.
I read this book as serialised fiction via pigeonhole so I would like to thank both them and the publisher for the copy received.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stu Turton – Review.

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About the Book

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My Review

I really don’t know where to begin in reviewing this book. I can honestly say I found it a fascinating but exhausting read. And it is one that I only really appreciated how clever it was a few days after finishing it.
I don’t want to say much about the plot. It is one of those books where everybody who reads it will see it differently.
So, I loved the description of the family home that had fallen into disrepair, a common event in the time in which I decided the novel takes place. The characters are a mixed bag. The most likeable were those from the lower classes, at least they were the only ones who had any morals or thought for anybody else. Because Aiden ‘adopts’ so many differing personalities you see them for what they really are, not the image they show to everybody else. But my favourite character by a long way was the Plague Doctor. It has been a long time since I met a character so mesmerising.
I did try to make notes whilst reading but gave up. I had been advised that the print book was easier to read than the e-book because of the maps,and some said it was easier to follow. There were times though when I was flicking back through the book and that would have been easier on my kindle.
I felt that some of the characters were more modern than others and one of my theories about this was later proven wrong. But it is a book which I would definitely like to read again. Just to see whether I read it differently knowing what happens at the end.
I read this book with three other readers as part of a ‘buddy read’. we chatted throughout, coming up with multiple explanations.

They were:

Janet from fromfirstpagetolast.wordpress.com/

Kate from bibliophilebookclub.com/

Vicki from off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

You can purchase the book here

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

This is how it begins.
With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.
With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly.
With a body hidden in a lift shaft.
But how will it end?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
This Is How It Ends is the first standalone novel by Eva Dolan and it is pretty amazing. It is based around a group of friends who protest against government, property developers and anybody who they feel is doing harm. With the state of the country there is plenty to protest about but their current project is the demolition of a block of flats that will have a huge impact on the lives of it’s inhabitants. Many people protest from the comfort of their sofas, shouting at the TV but there are also those who are prepared to go one step further. A few of these are Molly, Ella and Carol.
Molly and Carol have been protesting for years, Ella is the new kid on the block. The daughter of a high-ranking police officer she has had a privileged life compared to the people she protests with and for. After a party at the condemned flats their lives change dramatically. And that is all I can say about the plot. The less you know the more you will enjoy the novel.
There are two narrators, Molly whose account moves forward into real-time, and Ella whose account starts in the present time but then goes backward. Molly is older than Ella, she feels protective towards her but is increasingly wary . There are other characters who feature quite heavily. Most of them have an outward image that doesn’t reflect their true personality.
It’s a very topical book to read. Nearly every time you watch the news you see what type of things protesters are prepared to fight. All the mistrust of the police, the government and the media is all evident in real life and in this novel. The big events that are mentioned in the novel, one of which meant more to me than the others made it real and showed that are always going to be battles that affect some personally.
The last few pages I couldn’t read quickly enough,with an increasing anxiety and heart rate. On finishing, I just sat gazing into space devastated over what I had read.
Eva Dolan, you have excelled yourself. This novel is one that makes you analyse what is happening around you. I will be very surprised if this book isn’t one of the best sellers of the year.

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